in the kitchen with: sabrina moyle

Last week we enjoyed Eunice Moyle’s recipe for Eton Mess. This week, her sister, Sabrina (together they form Hello!Lucky) gives us an entertaining “vintage” red velvet cake recipe with wonderfully styled photos to fit the vintage grandmother imagery. No, you’re not going crazy, we featured Amy Butler’s favorite red velvet cake recipe, too! They differ slightly, especially the icing, but both deliver a delicious cake.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!


Waldorf Astoria $400 Red Velvet Cake

I discovered this recipe in my grandma’s recipe box when I was visiting her over Thanksgiving. It was handed down to her by her mother, and in doing a quick internet search I realized that some variation of it has been passed on mothers/daughters for generations! I can totally imagine my grandma making this in her kitchen (red food coloring and all!) in the 1950s for her four kids. It is vintage (think molded Jello!), but still very tasty!

The story behind is apparently one of the urban legends of baking – and it has been told in myriad ways, with different twists and price tags. Here’s the version I found my grandmother wrote down (with my own minor modifications to the recipe):

Waldorf Astoria $400 Red Velvet Cake

This recipe is said to have been requested of the chef at the Waldorf Astoria by a wealthy Oklahoma couple. It is said to have been mailed to them with a bill for $400.

½ cup shortening
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 oz red food coloring
2 Tbs cocoa
2 ¼ cup cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vinegar

Blend shortening and sugar. Add eggs, unbeaten. Whip until smooth.

Make a paste of the food coloring and cocoa. Add to the shortening mixture.

Sift the flour, salt and backing soda. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla. Add these to the batter, alternating the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture. Fold in vinegar.

Bake in 2 1” deep, 9” wide greased and floured layer cake pans 35 – 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool.

Icing for Red Velvet Cake

4 scant Tbs flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Cook the flour and milk over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Cool.

Cream the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip in the milk and flour mixture. The frosting should be thick and fluffy, similar in consistency to whipped cream.

Spread over the layers, top, and sides of the cake.


  1. amy marcella says:

    yay! i have been craving red velvet cake this week…

  2. Jilly says:

    Sounds yummy, although I like a cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake…

  3. Elyse says:

    Mmm, that looks delicious! But I think I would skip the food colouring, and just let it be whatever colour it is…=)

  4. The typed-out recipe card is too cute. I would frame it.

  5. amy says:

    2 oz of food coloring? That’s a lot–is that right?

  6. Michelle says:

    This is exactly what I’m going to make for my boyfriends graduation this weekend. p.s. Amy, yes that is probably right. Modern recipes use lots of dye although I’ve heard the traditional way to make it uses no dye, only a chemical reaction between the vinegar and a specific cocoa. I have not been able to find that recipe though.

  7. Amy says:

    Actually I read the Waldorf Astoria Cookbook, they actually used beets for most of the coloring! How cool is that!!

  8. angie says:

    can’t wait to make this! red velvet is my fav!!!!

  9. Kim Johnson says:

    I can’t wait to make this!!! I love the photo of your red cake batter tins on top of your red table. beautiful. xo

  10. Kylie says:

    The recipe card is so cute! Makes me want to make my vegan version of a mini-cake again sometime soon! I did a post about it here:

  11. Chi-Girl says:

    I enjoy so much looking at your beautiful home photos, letterpress info, and love a good recipe. You may already know this, but there’s a red vegetable dye (probably beet-oriented) which would be more healthy than using the typical red food dye (with the cross bones on it – lol). I just took my kindergarten class to a bakery yesterday (our last field trip) where the owner told me she uses that in her red velvet cupcakes (they didn’t have the bright, bright red look but maybe she wasn’t trying to achieve that).

    FYI: We teach letter-press printing at our elementary school – we have our own print shop (usually only 4-5-6th graders) but love that this incredible art form is being continued by so many artists.


  12. Hilary says:

    This is the same recipe that I have grown up with, it is the only one that we request for our birthday’s every year (every one of us). I am now using that same recipe for my family (we only use one oz of red food coloring with one oz of water, and it still has the same red result), I think that I may try the beet version if I can find it for next time I make it.

  13. Bean says:

    I have the same red & white vase, it’s my favorite!!

  14. Caroline says:

    Wow… my FAVORITE. Two new Red Velvet cakes to try.

  15. Heide says:

    I just loved it ! Thank you so much for your generosity.
    I love your blog

  16. Daisypicker5 says:

    I made a red velvet cake this past weekend and it looked just like yours!! I used this recipe .I mixed the red food coloring with beet juice because I thought the amount of red food coloring the recipe asked for was a little bit scary and that i’d mutate or something. I kind of want to make red cup cakes the next time. Will visit again!!

  17. Sandy says:

    This is the only recipe I’ve had for 40+ years. It is also the one that is requested for birthdays. I use the 1 oz bottles of red food coloring as well since that is how it is sold. This is the only red cake I’ve liked. The others are blah in comparison. I don’t like how red food coloring is made. I think they had the right idea using beets. I may have to try that one too.

  18. ~amy~ says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this…I’ve been meaning to make it and finally did for Thanksgiving. I made them into cupcakes! I did something wrong with the frosting…it still tasted delish but looked horrible so I substituted…

  19. Kathleen says:

    sounds great I WILL try it.

  20. I like your blogs very much.

  21. Cyndi says:

    This is REAl red velvet cake NO cream cheese frosting. I need to make this real soon. Thanks for reminding me


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